(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Nutrition and Health Linked Empowerment

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Nutrition and Health Linked Empowerment


Nutrition and Health Linked Empowerment


  • Nutrition and health status of the masses in general, and that of the women in particular, has a direct bearing on well-being of the nation. Health is one of the basic needs and a fundamental right of each and every citizen which assumes a special significance in the case of women. 

Role of women: 

  • Women not only shoulder the household responsibilities including child-rearing and childcare but they are also actively involved in economically gainful employment outside home or they significantly contribute towards the family enterprises – be it agriculture or animal husbandry or small-scale industry or some other allied activities. 
  • Women play a dominant role in rural economy; hence, their optimised health and nutritional status is of paramount importance for the family as well as for the community and the nation. Women not only constitute almost half of the total population but they also form a big chunk of the total workforce.
  • Since women are majorly responsible for bearing/rearing the children, their health status directly influences the health and well-being of their young ones. Inadequate intake of nutritious diet, both in terms of quantity and quality can lead to malnutrition, deficiency diseases and other ailments/disorders which in turn can lower their life expectancy and also result in increased morbidity and mortality. Women’s poor health condition not only reduces their productivity and earning capacity but also hampers their ability to take care of the family.
  • A holistic approach towards women’s health and nutrition needs to be adopted with a special focus on the needs of women at all stages of life cycle. Widespread nutrition related awareness needs to be generated for addressing the issue of gender bias in intra-household food distribution and nutrition imbalances.

Sustainable Development Goals:

  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the world in 2015, provide the roadmap for a sustainable progress that ‘leaves no one behind’. Achieving gender equality and women empowerment is integral to each of the 17-SDGs. Only by ensuring the rights of girl-child and women across all the goals, we will be able to achieve justice and sustain our shared environments, not only for the present but also for the future generations.
  • Billions of people lack access to safe drinking water services. When water is not available at home level- as is the case in majority of the rural areas in developing countries -women and girls are entrusted with the responsibility of fetching water from long distances which usually being time consuming, limits their engagement in productive activities like education and gainful employment. SDG-6 addresses the issue of clean water and sanitation. It is envisaged that in the coming years, women will be saved from this drudgery and that they shall be able to devote their time to gainful activities.
  • For cooking purposes, rural women are more likely to rely on solid fuels such as wood, crop-waste, charcoal, coal and cow-dung which cause high levels of household and environmental air pollution. Further, women are also forced to spend large chunk of their precious time in collecting the fuel. By increasing the availability of clean energy sources, on one hand, environmental pollution can be curtailed while on the other, it can help in improving women’s health. This aspect is being addressed under SDG-7 (affordable and clean energy for all).
  • In developing countries, majority of the rural women depend on natural resources for their food as well as income and livelihood; the adverse impact of ensuing climate change has already reduced agricultural yields in many places. It has been projected that by the year 2050, climate change will have reduced wheat production by nearly 36 percent (sub-Saharan Africa) to 49 percent (South Asia). 
  • Further, due to unequal access to land, credit facilities, marketing techniques, agricultural inputs (such as fertilisers etc.) and information & technology, rural women are at a greater disadvantage in adapting to the climate change as well as in adopting the mitigation techniques.  SDG-13 addresses the issue of climate change and the necessary actions.
  • Due to inequalities in land tenure and access, compared to men, many more rural women are dependent on common resources such as forests for meeting the food and fuel needs of their household. Hence, rural women are particularly affected by the continuous loss of forest at a massive pace. This issue is being addressed under the SDG-15.

Essential Nutrition Linked Interventions for Women

  • Improving the quantity and quality of food consumption through an easy access to food/ration through public distribution system as well as dignified access to supplementary nutrition to the eligible beneficiaries under the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) scheme.
  • Generating awareness to improve household diets using local foods, increasing food production especially that of the fresh vegetables including green leafy vegetables, fruits and modifying dietary behaviours through effective nutrition and health education.
  • Preventing micronutrient deficiencies including anaemia through iron folic acid (IFA) supplementation, deworming, pre/ peri-conceptual folic acid supplementation, universal access to iodised salt, malaria prevention and treatment in malaria-endemic
    areas and calcium, iron and vitamin A supplementation during pregnancy along with appropriate knowledge and support to stop tobacco abuse, if any.
  • Improving access to basic health, nutrition services and promoting early registration of pregnancy, providing quality antenatal check-up and monitoring weight gain during pregnancy along with screening and specialised care of at-risk mothers.
  • Improving access to water, sanitation, and education facilities by promoting easy access to safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation facilities as well as imparting education in general and hygiene including menstrual hygiene in particular.
  • Empowering women for preventing too early, too frequent and/or closely spaced pregnancies by ensuring girls’ marriages at/after the legal age of 21 years through awareness generation and education; the parents are advised to ensure that their girl-child is married only after she completes her secondary education; and this education will empower the girls to make proper decisions during their married life. 
  • Also, by delaying the first pregnancy/ repeat pregnancies and limiting the number of pregnancies through appropriate family planning methods, reproductive health information, incentives and services will help in preventing the depletion of maternal stores; and this will ensure better pregnancy outcome as well as better maternal health. In addition, providing community support systems to women, helping them in decision making, confidence building, providing facilities for skill development and economic empowerment (as part of maternity entitlements) will go a long way in improving nutrition and health status as well as dignity of the women.
  • Pradhan Mantri Mahila Kaushal Kendra (PMMKK) and Special Women-Centric Projects: The National Skill Development Policy through its training partners such as Mann Deshi Foundation, Shri Mahila Sewa Sahkari Bank Limited and Sri Sarada Math Rasik Bhita is exclusively working on women’s (especially the rural women’s) skill development. The training comprises imparting of digital, accounting and entrepreneurial skills to facilitate the setting up of their own business.


  • Nutrition and health related empowerment, particularly that of the rural women, can go a long way in improving household dietary patterns and diversification of diets; and thus, achieving improved health and nutrition outcomes of women, children, family and the nation as a whole.



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Courtesy: Kurukshetra